Best Back-to-School Reads

back-to-school image

As summer comes to an end, it's time for kiddos everywhere to head back to school.  ReadKiddoRead has put together a list of great books to get kids in the mood to do just that.  There's a book for every reader on this list, whether your kiddos are starting kindergarten or high school (and a few that you might enjoy too).

Great Illustrated Books, ages 2 – 6
Great Transitional Books, ages 6 – 9
Great Pageturners, ages 9 -12
Great Advanced Books, ages 12 and Up


Miss Nelson is Missing

Miss Nelson is Missing!
By Harry G. Allard Jr.
Miss Nelson cannot control her classroom. "The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again," the book starts off. "They were the worst behaved class in the whole school." "Something must be done," says a resigned, rosy-cheeked Miss Nelson. The next day the teacher is nowhere to be found, and the children rejoice and throw more paper airplanes-a little too soon. An unpleasant substitute in an ugly black dress, Miss Viola Swamp, sweeps in in her stead.


My Kindergarten
By Rosemary Wells
Take a glorious month-by-month tour through the kindergarten year with master teacher Miss Cribbage, a guinea pig, as seen through the eyes of Emily the rabbit, one of eight animal students in the class. As the months go by, they count, collect weeds and seeds, make maps, sing, and widen their horizons across the activity-filled curriculum.

Panda Kindergarten

Panda Kindergarten
By Joanne Ryder
At Wolong Nature Reserve in China, giant pandas are raised and studied by researchers who are helping to ensure the survival of these endangered creatures. Mother pandas often have twins but can only care for one cub at a time, so the workers at the panda nursery care for the twin and swap cubs so both get mom time.



School!: Adventures at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School
By Kate McMullan; Illustrated by George Booth
Laugh-out-loud funny, from the endpapers to the final page, this illustrated novel tells about a week of what would be very ordinary happenings – except that this particular hotsy-totsy, tippy-toppy, super-duper,hunky-dory, yowie-ka-zowie week is at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School – where everyone and everything is just a little different and a lot hilarious.

Zoo School

Zoo School
By Laurie Miller Hornik, Illustrated by Debbie Tilley
At the hands-on new Zoo School, where the motto is, "Let the animals be your textbooks," the student desks are actually fish-filled aquariums. The students include Ursula, who wants everything to be just like it was at her old school; Kitty, who knows a lot about animals and can't wait to learn more; Drake, who is terrified of animals, and is unnerved by the fish swimming in his desk; and Robin, who can't believe there's no nurse at this school, because she is used to spending half her day in the nurse's office.

The King of Show and Tell

The King of Show-and-Tell (Ready, Freddy! series)
By Abby Klein, Illustrated by John McKinley
It's Freddy Thresher's turn for show-and-tell on Monday, and he'd sure like to find something as cool as the alligator head classmate Robbie brought for show-and-tell today. When he rescues a baby bird that has fallen from its nest, he names it Winger. If he can keep Winger hidden from his mom all weekend and sneak it to school on Monday without his teacher seeing it, he knows he'll be the King of Show-and-Tell for sure!

What's the Matter in Mr. Whiskers' Room

What's the Matter in Mr. Whiskers' Room?
By Michael Elsohn Ross, Illustrated by Pail Meisel
For kids who find the study of science intimidating, wait till they meet the male counterpart to Ms. Frizzle (who kids already know and love from Joanna Cole's "The Magic School Bus" books)—Mr. Whiskers, a teacher with a beard, a blond crew cut, and a passion for "the big idea." His mission is to make science scintillating.


It's the First Day of School Forever

It's the First Day of School…Forever!
By R.L. Stine
Somehow, Artie Howard makes it through a terrible first day of middle school. Could it get worse? Yes! When Artie wakes the next morning for the second day of school, the events of the previous day begin repeating. In very short, action-filled chapters, Artie tells his own story, tapping into every kid's fears and worries about new schools and the beginning of new school years. Artie's keep-on-going attitude and his ability to find bits of humor in it all will have readers on his side.

Middle School

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
By James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, Illustrated by Laura Park
Middle School doesn't begin well for Rafe Khatchadorian. Between run-ins with the school bully, Miller "The Killer" and a book of rules that the school actually takes seriously, to say Rafe is disillusioned with the educational system would be understatement. And so it's totally understandable when his best friend, Leonardo, suggests that Rafe set out to break every rule in the book.


By R.J. Palacio
It would be hard to overstate how special this book is – it is much more than just an exquisitely written story. This is a rare book that might – open a closed heart; it could make the world a better place. August Pullman, now 10, was born with a deformed face. He lives in Manhattan, where's it's hard to hide, so even though he's been homeschooled, he's felt the stares and heard the whispers. Now his parents have decided (not without reservations) that it's time for Auggie to meet the wider world, enrolling him in a private school for fifth grade.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Sideways Stories from Wayside School
By Louis Sachar
There are strange things afoot on the thirtieth story of Wayside School. The classroom's first teacher, the wicked Mrs. Gorf, turned all her children into apples, but had to be replaced when they reversed her spell, turned her into an apple, and she accidentally was eaten by Louis, the schoolyard teacher. Whoops. The twenty-seven wacky kids are now in the hands of a bewildered nice, young teacher, Mrs. Jewls, and each chapter is devoted to their quirks, one classmate at a time.

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman
By Ben H. Winters
Ms. Finkleman is not the most popular teacher at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School; neither is she the least popular. In fact, the mousy music teacher sort of embodies the word "unremarkable." Meanwhile, in Social Studies, Mr. Melville announces "Special Projects," a class favorite. The assignment: solve a mystery in your own life. Bethesda Fielding has the best idea – to uncover who this Ms. Finkleman really is!


SPHDZ Book #1! (Spaceheadz series)
By Jon Scieszka, and Francesco Sedita, Illustrated by Shane Prigmore
It's Michael K.'s first day in a new school, P.S. 868, in a new city, Brooklyn, New York, and though he's only been there for twenty minutes, it's already seriously weird. His new teacher, Mrs. Halley, has put him in the slow group with two strange new kids. How strange? The new girl just ate half of her pencil, and the new boy has just told him that they are Spaceheadz from another planet.


By Raina Telgemeier
There's plenty of drama in Callie's life – onstage and off! Callie is the set designer for her middle school play. She wants it to go off with a bang – literally – and is building a cannon that really "fires" for the show. If only she could add some spark to her love life. Callie's first experiences with romance are fizzling – and confusing. But nothing keeps infectiously-enthusiastic Callie down for long, especially when she's got set design and her stage crew to keep her distracted.


The Wednesday Wars

The Wednesday Wars
By Gary D. Schmidt
"Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High School, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun. Me." So starts the sometimes slapstick, sometimes serious account by Holling Hoodhood about the Wednesday afternoons he is forced to spend with his stern and demanding English teacher. Though they begin as adversaries, Mrs. Baker, whose husband has just been deployed to Vietnam, becomes his touchstone who helps him deal with his perfectionist and bullying father.

The Disreputable History

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
By E. Lockhart
The summer after her freshman year of high school, Frankie blooms into a "curvaceous young woman with an offbeat look." Frankie's sister, Zada, graduated in June, and now Frankie will be on her own at Alabaster Preparatory Academy, away from her overprotective family who treat her like a child. In September, Frankie encounters popular senior and golden boy, Matthew Livingston, on whom she's had a secret crush since freshman year. Not only does Matthew notice her, he flirts with her and introduces her to his friends. This is a compelling, enjoyable, diabolical, and witty read.

Blue Lipstick

Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems
By John Grandits
Emotions erupt in Jessie's collection of 33 concrete poems, beginning with the title poem which is written around the perimeter of the front cover. They meander and cascade across each page in a swirl of assorted blue and black fonts. There's "A Chart of My Emotional Day," which she diagrams for a math assignment; "Volleyball Practice," with sentences that bounce back and forth on the page; and "My Absolutely Bad Cranky Day," a simply glorious alphabet and timeline combined.